Aquatic cen­tre back-off


The Kaik­oura District Coun­cil has agreed to scrap plans to help fund a pro­posed new aquatic cen­tre fol­low­ing calls from ratepay­ers to stick to core ser­vices.

How­ever, the coun­cil is pro­ceed­ing with plans for a new civic cen­tre and has also ear­marked fund­ing for Kaik­oura’s in­te­grated health fa­cil­ity.

The coun­cil spent last week hear­ing and de­lib­er­at­ing on sub­mis­sions to its draft Long Term Plan (LTP). A to­tal of 19 sub­mit­ters were heard through­out the day on Mon­day, with de­lib­er­a­tions tak­ing place the fol­low­ing day. The fi­nal de­ci­sions were signed off on Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

More than half

of the 41 sub­mis­sions re­ceived raised con­cern over the vi­a­bil­ity of ratepayer fund­ing go­ing to­wards the pro­posed aquatic cen­tre.

Al­though the con­cept had ini­tially been sold to the com­mu­nity as hav­ing no bur­den on ratepay­ers, the draft plan showed a coun­cil com­mit­ment of $ 8 mil­lion, a step too far for many, par­tic­u­larly those in the ru­ral sec­tor.

Fed­er­ated Farm­ers Kaik­oura Branch rep­re­sen­ta­tive Tony Blunt said if the pro­ject were to fail, as had happened else­where in New Zealand, ratepay­ers would be left with ‘‘ colos­sal, es­ca­lat­ing and ob­vi­ously un­sus­tain­able debt’’.

Echo­ing the feel­ings of fel­low sub­mit­ters, Mr Blunt said if the aquatic cen­tre was go­ing to result in the prof­itable busi­ness an­tic­i­pated, the pri­vate sec­tor would be happy to fund it.

Other sub­mit­ters felt the con­cept of the aquatic cen­tre was a good one, but re­quested coun­cil put it on the back-burner un­til the econ­omy looked brighter. They would pre­fer to see a sat­is­fac­tory pool for lo­cals to use to re­place the cur­rent Li­ons Pool, which was at the end of its life.

Coun­cil­lor Ge­off Har­mon said the coun­cil needed to recog­nise the num­ber of peo­ple who had taken the time to make sub­mis­sions on the sub­ject, and agreed that if the aquatic cen­tre promised to be a suc­cess, then some­one else could pay for it.

Be­cause of the vol­ume of sub­mis­sions on the sub­ject and the fact that no de­tailed con­struc­tion and op­er­a­tional costs had yet been de­ter­mined, the coun­cil agreed to re­tain the aquatic cen­tre in the plan as an ‘‘as­pi­ra­tional aim’’ but to delete the pro­posed bor­row­ing of $8 mil­lion. It also agreed to re­duce the pro­posed op­er­at­ing costs from $400,000 per an­num to re­flect just the on­go­ing run­ning cost of the ex­ist­ing swimming pool.

At the point when plans for a new fa­cil­ity are de­ter­mined, the coun­cil would seek an amend­ment to the plan, a process which would re­quire pub­lic in­put.

The coun­cil also heard a num­ber of re­quests from med­i­cal health pro­fes­sion­als and com­mu­nity group rep­re­sen­ta­tives to un­der­write a short­fall in the in­te­grated health fa­cil­ity pro­ject. The Can­ter­bury District Health Board has agreed to fund the pro­ject for $10 mil­lion. How­ever, the over­all cost of the pro­ject is es­ti­mated at $13.4 mil­lion.

Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Stu­art Grant asked a num­ber of sub­mit­ters whether the short­fall should come from ratepay­ers. While many agreed it was not nec­es­sar­ily a core ser­vice, they would like to see money spent there be­fore an aquatic cen­tre.

Other changes to the plan in­clude fund­ing the hospi­tal­ity suite at the Kaik­oura High School to the tune of $29,000, in­creas­ing fund­ing for Sport Tas­man, and fund­ing the Kaik­oura His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety, Te Korowai o Te Tai o Marokura, and a new cy­cle­way pro­ject. Ad­di­tional har­bour fa­cil­i­ties will also be in­ves­ti­gated.

Coun­cil ex­pects to adopt the plan on Fri­day at 11am.

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